The broadcasting rights for the “Super Rugby” competition are currently being negotiated. The money generated by broadcasters for this competition in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand are pooled and shared between the three national bodies that control Rugby Union in those nations.
Right now there is an issue in that Rugby Union in Australia is not very valuable to broadcasters in Australia. This means Australia’s contribution to the pool of funding will not be all that great.
This has an effect on the NZRU has they only have a small country to draw upon. While Rugby Union in Australia isn’t all that big, the NZRU does get money out of having them there to play as an opponent on a regular basis and it allows the NZRU to get their foot in the door of a much larger television market.
So what happens if say Fox Sport Australia, Channel 9 and Sky Sports in New Zealand sit down and do some sums…
How much would it be worth to broadcasters to have the 5 New Zealand base Super Rugby teams added to the National Rugby League next season, all with ready made supporter bases, bringing together the two most watched domestic “Rugby” competitions in Australia and New Zealand?
That would give the National Rugby League a 21 team competition. That would give broadcasters in Australia and New Zealand 10 games per week, all of which are played in decent times zones, which is something that can not be said for the current Super Rugby competition.
You would completely lock down the Australian and New Zealand markets. You would form a juggernaught of a competition that would demand a broadcasting deal that would have to start edging towards the $2 billion mark.
This idea would horrify Rugby Union supporters, players and administrators. There are probably a million reasons why it would not happen. I will say this however…the NZRU would have to sit down and have a meeting about it. With all of that money on offer, they would have to discuss making a move that would see all of their main teams and players switch codes in exchange for the sort of money they simply would not be able to demand either on their own, or with the help of Australian and South African Rugby Union teams.
You see, to most supporters of both games, the idea of code swapping is rotten. Neither side likes to see it happen unless it helps them get a player from the other side.
To broadcasters though, these are all just 2 hours blocks of content. They don’t care about the history of either game. They couldn’t give a stuff about the rules. As long as they have something people are watching, they will show it.
The NRL has no issues in regards to television ratings. The ARU and its teams however have a major issue. Television ratings for Rugby Union in Australia are abysmal, and that means one of the three main partners in SANZAR, and what should be the biggest market, is in a terrible position.
The NRL can sit back and do nothing. It is already in an incredible position financially. They have their billion dollar broadcasting deal locked away.
I simply wonder what the figure would be that at least makes the NZRU have a meeting over switching all of their teams over to Rugby League and joining the NRL’s financial juggernaught.
At the very least, its interesting to think about…